Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gruff Rhys, Norwich Arts Centre

After the better part of two decades penning slightly left-field but endlessly radio-friendly pop gems, it is fitting that the Norwich Owl's inaugural flight should be spent in the company of Gruff Rhys, chief Super Furry Animal and, latterly, solo artist of note.  And, while there are those among our seven strong party - well, me - who would like to live in a world where this gig is held at the city's 25,000 capacity football stadium, with hordes of ticketless fans turned away at the gate, it must be said that Gruff and the Arts Centre are well suited, both oozing class and the latter providing the acoustics to complement the former's silky croon.  The similarly committed are out in force tonight, as Gruff takes to the stage alone to perform "Rubble Rubble", one of the stand-out tracks from his "Hotel Shampoo" long-player, before being joined by backing band and support act Y Niwl to dip in and out of the three albums he has so far released away from the rest of SFA.  And it is a treat, with Gruff shifting between guitar, keyboard, gadgets and placards to bring the tunes to life, and engaging as only he can with between song banter that, as ever, takes a while to arrive at its' destination.  It's all in the timing. At the climax of a gig lasting in excess of 90 minutes, Rhys leaves us with "Skylon", his 15-minute epic of mid-air bomb disposal and, as the song unfolds in its own effortless, hook-filled manner, you sense that the whole room is happy to be on board for the duration.  It is spellbinding.  Pretty much like the evening itself, in fact.  And he still has bloody good hair.



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